BEND, OR -- Law enforcement officers from across the country are coming to Central Oregon, this spring, to take part in a unique three-day conference offered by the Bend Police Department. Lt. Clint Burleigh tells KBND News the training focuses on stress management, mindfulness and mental health. "This is such a stressful career regarding what we see, what we respond to, what we hear, and just trying to make sure we make time for ourselves to get ourselves back. Because, the more we are aware of ourselves, the better we are going to be on the street for the community."
The Resilience Immersion Training was first held a year ago after Bend Police Sgt. Brian Beekman met an officer from Hillsboro. "They both went to a class at UCLA, where they talk about mindfulness in law enforcement. From there, he brought it back and said ‘hey, we want to bring this three-day immersion training here in Bend,’ and it’s blown up. As you have people coming from across the nation, and they go back and say ‘this has been so helpful for me,’ word spreads in law enforcement communities. And when it starts hitting, it’s like wildfire."
Sgt. Beekman says it fills a hole that’s existed up to this point in law enforcement training. "A little known, but very scary fact of law enforcement, law enforcement suicides are thought to be on a national level double what line of duty deaths are. So, that gives you a feel for a scope for the problem. You know, how many officers are exposed to violence, traumatized, physically injured and deal with a lot of pain and suffering, and that accumulates over the course of their careers."
The spring session will be the third held in Bend. A November session sold out, drawing officers from South Carolina, Canada, California and several points in between. Beekman says those agencies are attracted to the uniqueness of the training, "We have the benefit here of having a department that’s looking for new ways to keep officers healthy in the profession and go out of the box a little bit. And, because of that, they’ve allowed us to host some training that’s different. Along that vein, we’ve kind of become a hub for this type of training." The training is led by Mindful Badge.